Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an iconic American treasure. It is home to more than 200 species of birds, along with polar bears, wolves, and nearly 200,000 caribou that raise their young in the refuge. Birds migrate from across the United States and from six continents in order to feed and reproduce in the Arctic Refuge, taking advantage of the burst of plant and insect life during the long days of the Arctic summer.

The region was first protected in 1960 by President Dwight Eisenhower. President Eisenhower had the wisdom to set aside an entire Arctic ecosystem, from the Brooks Range Mountains and surrounding forests, to wild rivers and streams, vast marshes, to the biologically-rich coastal plain that streteches to the Arctic Ocean. This area provides crucial nesting habitat for birds such as Tundra Swans and Northern Pintail.

While many areas in Alaska are already open to oil and gas drilling, oil and gas interests continue to lobby to drill in the pristine coastal plain. And while some parts of the Arctic Refuge are permanently protected, the coastal plain of the refuge has never received permanent protection through a Wilderness designation from Congress, leaving it vulnerable to industrial development.

This year, the Arctic Refuge is facing a serious threat. Drilling proponents are attempting to push through legislation that would turn this incredible, wild landscape and vital bird habitat into an oil field, and may even use backdoor budget tactics to force it through Congress. We need our representatives in Congress to stand up and prevent this attack from succeeding. Further, we need our representatives to support legislation that would permanently protect the Arctic Refuge's coastal plain. You can take action and call on your own representatives in Congress to protect the refuge by clicking here.

Read about the danger that seismic testing poses to the Arctic Refuge and the birds who live there

Read Audubon's Arctic Refuge Fact Sheet
Read Audubon's Arctic Refuge Talking Points
Oppose Drilling in the Arctic Refuge
Arctic Refuge sample Letter to the Editor

What's At Stake In the Arctic Refuge


9 Images That Show How Fast The Arctic Is Changing

Take a look—life at the top of the planet will never be the same.

Breaking the Ice: Survival Lessons from a Changing Arctic

As temperatures rise and sea ice melts, our intrepid correspondent heads north to watch scientists test technologies to better understand the Arctic.
From Audubon Magazine

Meet the Creatures of the Arctic Polar Night

As the far north heats up, more open waters means more winter habitat for a wider variety of birds and other marine life.

Areas Available for Oil and Gas Leases on Alaska's North Slope



From Audubon Magazine

How One Alaskan Community Is Attempting to Adapt to Climate Change

The Iñupiat use portable houses and sandbags to shield themselves from rising waters and melting permafrost, but can they save their culture?
Audubon in Action

What’s Going on With the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

The future of the refuge is still up in the air after a lengthy deadlock in Congress. Here’s what to know about the current state of affairs.
Audubon View

Help Audubon Protect the Coastal Plain

After decades, a long-sought conservation victory is truly within reach.

Sitting Ducks: Why Millions of Arctic Seabirds Are in Danger

Oil spills, climate change, fishing, shipping routes—threats facing Arctic seabirds are vast, and hard to track.

Birds That Depend on the Arctic Refuge

Birds in the News

The Inside Story of Shell’s Arctic Assault

A months-long investigation shows how the energy giant pressured the Interior Department during the company's gung-ho Arctic push—and got most of what it wanted (except oil).